Countryside Alliance is 
tops for saving our wildlife

Paul Pringle presents the William Brownlow award to Countryside Alliance Ireland Chairman John Clarke, who received it on behalf of Sir Barney White-Spunner, Countryside Alliance and Countryside Alliance Northern Ireland.
Paul Pringle presents the William Brownlow award to Countryside Alliance Ireland Chairman John Clarke, who received it on behalf of Sir Barney White-Spunner, Countryside Alliance and Countryside Alliance Northern Ireland.

The prestigious William Brownlow award for promoting and defending country sports and the rural way of life has been awarded to Countryside Alliance.

The presentation was made jointly to the organisation’s executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner, the UK-based Countryside Alliance and its sister body, Countryside Alliance Ireland.

This was the first time that the Brownlow award was shared by an individual and an organisation.

The award, which was presented at the Irish Game Fair at Shane’s Castle, last weekend is made in memory of the late, acclaimed countryman Major William Brownlow, who was a passionate advocate of country pursuits and traditional country sports and it is only ever presented for outstanding work in these areas.

Making the presentation, Irish Country Sports and Country Life editor, Paul Pringle, praised the Countryside Alliance for its work for country sports across Ireland and Great Britain and, in particular, highlighted the sterling leadership shown by its executive chairman Sir Barney White-Spunner.

He said: “Countryside Alliance is the passionate and informed voice of the countryside, principled and proactive in its fight to support the country way of life. From making positive, insightful contributions to the debate on topics such as firearms licensing, to the repeal of current hunting legislation and even the extension of rural broadband, the organisation invariably has its ‘finger on the pulse’.”

Mr Pringle said: “The inspirational Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner proactively ensures that the rural agenda is understood and heard at the highest levels of government – and all of us with our roots in the country appreciate that advocacy. This award is a fitting tribute to the hard work done by him, the Countryside Alliance and Countryside Alliance Ireland.” Sir Barney was also presented with an original water colour painting by Pauric Costello.

Meanwhile, 21 environmental projects are benefiting from the DoE’s Natural Environment Fund. A Press statement from the DoE said the £1.25m NEF fund will enable NGOs and landscape management bodies to help protect our landscape, species and access to the countryside.

Those benefiting are: The RSPB which got £110.000; the Northern Ireland Raptor Study group - £47,000; Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust -£110,000; Beltrim Charitable Trust (Slieveanorra and Croaghan Grouse and Wildlife Project) - £3,096; Irish Bat Monitoring Programme - £5,000; Belfast Hills Partnership- £45,000; British Trust for Ornithology - £45,574; Lagan Valley Regional Park- £25,000; Lough Neagh Partnership- £28,051; Mourne Heritage Trust- £149,000; National Trust (For the delivery of the Strangford Lough Nature Conservation Plan) - £45,750; NI Environment Link - £100,000; NI Raptor Study Group (for Future Proofing NI’s Birds of Prey) - £37,000; Newry, Mourne and Down DC- £49,000; Outdoor Recreation NI - £90,000; Rivercare Ltd for Ballinderry Fresh Water Pearl Mussel Rescue project -£11,705; Ballinderry Rivers Trust - £25,000; RSPB - For protecting environment connecting people with nature - £110,000; Newry, Mourne and Down DC- £60,000; The Conservation Volunteers - £22,000; Ulster Wildlife £130,000; Woodland Trust - £35,693.

Meanwhile, by June 28 a total of 104 fish had been caught for the season at Blackwater Lodge section of the Cork Blackwater. Nine fish to 7lb were caught for eight rod days. One rod landed four on one beat on the lower river. For Cushendun angler Daniel O’Hara and a colleague, everything was going well with three nice sea trout caught on the river Crana near Buncrana in Donegal until three otters appeared and effectively, called a halt to fly fishing for the night.

At Craigmore Marti Allen had 20 trout to 6lb on nymphs and Paul Douglas had 12 to 6lb 10oz on buzzers and dries. Other catches were: Jim Kennedy, 22to 5lb; John McGreevy, 12 to 6lb 10oz; Darrell McKinley, 15 to7lb; Stevie Rea, 22to 6lb; John Arnell, 18 to 7lb; Craig Murray, 12 to 6lb; Maurice Anderson, 10; Jim Johnson, 19 to 9lb and a tagged fish worth £25; Jeff Davidson, 10 to 5lb; Peter McIlwaine, 11 to 5lb; Alan McDowell, 21 to 7lb; Chris Martin, 12 to 5lb; Simon Kinley, 11; Jim Magill, 12; Pawal Sincia, 15 to 7lb 10oz;  Brian Atkinson, 12; James Harper, nine to 10lb; Tommy Curlow, nine; Gareth McCaffery, six to 5lb and his daughter Olivia, 6lb; Keith Ritchie, 6lb; Ryan King, 4lb; Alister McClune, 6lb; Stewart McDowell, 4lb; Andrew Burden, 6lb; Jason Ogibly, Richard Reid, Christopher Blaney and Paul Holmes each landed fish at 4lb; Gerry Rooney, Arthur McClellend and Dermot Morrow, each had fish at 5lb; Stuart Worth and Darrell Anderson, 4lb; John Bailey, Davy Stitt, Billy Hazlett and Alan Temple each had fish at 5lb.

Remember it will be another all-nighter at Craigmore tonight; with fishing from 8pm until 8 am.

Murloc anglers are making good catches with sedge olives, buzzers, damsel and midge. This has given the dry fly specialists a bonanza. Roy Mulligan, Portadown, had 22 fish on Fly and olives and John McLean had 24 on olive cdcs.

Niell Campbell had 20 on black and red buzzers and Andy Glen, Larne, had 22 on olive Shipmans cdc. Alfie Johnston, Lisburn, had 14 by the same method and won £25 for catching a tagged fish. Sam Hillis, Aghalee, went one better and got £50 for catching two tagged fish. 

Carrowmore produced the odd fresh springer but with good numbers of sea trout now running the system, angling has become a lot more entertaining. The Burrishoole Fishery opened on June 17 with good numbers of fish showing. On the Drowes the very good run of grilse continued and 80 salmon caught for the week. Eleven fish were landed on Lough Melvin.

Jim Haughey, chairman of the Ulster Angling Federation; Robbie Marshall, UAF; Ruth Arrell, Irish Ladies Fly Fishing Association; Tom Fulton, Countryside Alliance Ireland; Ed Montgomery, Bann System Ltd; Sixmilewater Trust, and The Main River Trust, made good use of their time at the Irish Game fair at Shane’s Castle.

Jim tells me they were able to chat with their many friends and colleagues, and help and inform the public with advice and assistance on angling.

You can learn something every day – if you talk to the right people. For nearly 80 years I have regularly been passing between the two loughs at Loughareema on my way to my turf banks without knowing that the sinkhole which effectively drains the lough to a point where it earns its name as The Vanishing Lake and makes it absolutely unique in Ireland.

Then on Saturday I stopped to talk to the hydrogeologist, Dr Paul Wilson, and his team who are engaged in a geological survey of Northern Ireland. Their geophysics survey of Loughareema is in fact a magnetic survey.

What they have discovered is that the sinkhole, near the gate on the mountain road which runs between the two loughs, is at the junction of two faults between three different rocks. The movement of the rocks over the years has opened up the sinkhole where the water runs away underground and reappears more than half a mile away down the Carey river. My guess is that the sinkhole from high water mark to the bottom would be about 25 feet deep.

I have always thought of it as a dangerous place, to be avoided by adults and children alike. Its sides are composed of slippery peat and anyone unfortunate enough to fall in could not get out by themselves. Dr Wilson certainly knows a lot about Loughareema. When I mentioned the tragedy that occurred there on September 39, 1898 he was able to recall the names of those who drowned there.

That was at a time when the Lough often spilled out on to the main Cushendun-Ballycastle road after a spell of very wet weather.

Colonel John McNeill had been staying with his cousin Captain Daniel McNeill at Cushendun House. Tragedy struck at Loughareema when horses and carriage went off the road into the deep water drowning all of them.

I said there were two loughs at Loughareema and so there are when the water drops a few feet below high water, separating the main lough from the small Black Lough on the far left corner, as viewed from the road. The Black lough never goes dry.